Adobe continued its push as establish itself with CAD users as it recently unveiled a file rights management software and service. Called LiveCycle Policy Server 7.2, it is meant to control access to Adobe PDF files, MS Word and Excel documents-- and most importantly for CAD users, CATIA V5 files.
With it, CATIA users can protect their model and drawing files from unwanted access. For example, a engineering firm can send their CATIA-designed part to several manufacturers for bids but limit the accessibility to the files so recipients cannot print or can only access drawings for a limited time. In the example used, once the best bid is selected, the engineering firm can immediately deny all access to the files to all unsuccessful bidders immediately. In another example, employees can be prevented from taking intellectual property with them when they leave the company, an issue of increasing concern with outsourcing and overseas development.
All this is accomplished with use of a digital rights server -- either operated by the engineering company (the shrink wrapped product) or by Adobe (the service). Adobe client software will encrypt the drawings before they are sent out. When the files are accessed by the recipient, the rights server is contacted and the intended rights are then transmitted. The reason rights can be changed on the fly are because the rights don't travel with the files. The rights are granted from the server which in control of the file owner.
What's' puzzling is why Adobe has targeted CATIA users and CATIA users only for CAD digital rights management? Don't Autodesk's DWG files represent a more lucrative market? According to Adobe, CATIA was chosen because the industries served by CATIA (automotive and aerospace) are thought to have "higher value" model files. Or would the choice of CATIA allow Adobe to use CATIA-style pricing -- CATIA users are presumably accustomed to spending more for design software and Adobe may hope that this sentiment may also apply to their software.
Where does this leave the millions of non-CATIA users? Adobe says those users may avail themselves of Adobe's SDK (software development kit) to fashion their own solution. Of course, this implies the availability of developers who may very well be in short supply and the small and medium size businesses in which AutoCAD, SolidWorks, etc. are favored.
More information is on Adobe LiveCycle Policy Server is available at the Adobe website.